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September 7, 2015

5 figures defining the future of SME broadband

Key findings from the Broadband Stakeholder Group about how SMEs will use connectivity.

By Alexander Sword

The Broadband Stakeholder Group commissioned the Communication Chambers to carry out a report on the broadband requirements of SMEs, defined here as businesses with up to 50 employees. The report uses a model of 2450 premises. Here are some of the key take-aways from the report.

1. Upstream demand

The median upstream bandwidth demand for small businesses is set to double in the next ten years, growing from 1.3 Mbps to 2.7 Mbps. 20 percent of small business premises could be constrained by 2020 if they remain limited to today’s speeds.

2. Industry variation

The amount of bandwidth that businesses need varies hugely among different industries. The average premise working in food and beverage will require 57 Mbps by 2025, dwarfing the 11 Mbps required in the postal and couriers sector.

3. Downstream demand

The median downstream demand for small businesses rises from 5 Mbps in 2015 to 8.1 Mbps. Considering these are smaller firms, this is in line with industry rules of thumb that allow for 1 Mbps per employee.

4. Technology

Even in 2025, existing technologies such as FTTC and DOCSIS 3.0 will be sufficient for the great majority of small businesses. The rest should be served well enough by new technology such as G.Fast and DOCSIS 3.1 for many years.

5. File transfers

The report revealed that file transfers were the key driver of upstream demand. In the model, doubling the size of file transfers increased demand from 42 Mbps to 74 Mbps for 95 percent of businesses.

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